Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Räikkönen was born in Espoo, Finland. He had a long line of success in karting from the age of ten, including placing second in the 1999 European Formula Super A championship. He also competed that year in the Formula Ford Euro Cup, and by the age of twenty, he had won the Formula Renault Winter series, winning the first four races of the year. In 2000, he dominated the British Renault Championship, where he won seven of ten events. After racing in the Formula Renault series later in 2000, Räikkönen had won an astounding 13 of 23 events -- a 56% win rate.
Peter Sauber was so impressed that he gave the Finn a test with the Sauber Formula One team in September if 2000. After further tests in Jerez and Barcelona, Sauber signed Räikkönen for the 2001 season. However, some critics (including FIA president Max Mosley) voiced concerns over granting an F1 super license to such an inexperienced driver, having only 23 racing events to his credit; he was nevertheless granted a super license, and silenced his critics by scoring a championship point in Australia, his maiden grand prix.
Far from being the hazard that some people expected him to be, Räikkönen was very calm, cool, and calculating in his race strategy - prompting former critics to nickname him "the iceman". He had a solid debut year, proving he was indeed ready for the big time of Formula One. He finished the season with four points-scoring finishes, with eight finishes in the top eight. Completing the year with 9 points, Räikkönen, along with teammate and fellow prospect Nick Heidfeld (12 points), helped Team Sauber to its highest ever result: fourth place in the constructors championship. Räikkönen, long rumored to be linked to a future Ferrari deal, instead sufficiently impressed McLaren, earning a race seat on Ron Dennis' team for 2002, replacing double-world champion (and fellow Finn) Mika Häkkinen.
Räikkönen scored a third-place podium finish in his first race with McLaren, the 2002 Australian Grand Prix. Although McLaren suffered many Mercedes engine failures in 2002, he still managed to score 24 points and four podiums, and held his own to teammate David Coulthard. Räikkönen came close to winning his first grand prix in France, but spun out on oil spilled on the Magny-Cours circuit with a handful of laps to go, settling for second place. All told, he finished the season in sixth place, right behind his teammate in fifth; together, they enabled McLaren to a solid third place in the constructor chase.
Räikkönen began the 2003 campaign in spectacular fashion, reaching the podium the first six races. He won his first race during this span, the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix, and thought he had won in Brazil as well, only to be demoted to second place in the wake of a rain-drenched, red-flagged race. He also came extremely close to winning the famed street circuit of Monaco, but lost by less than a second to (future teammate) Juan Pablo Montoya. The 2003 season would prove to be the closest campaign in years, with Räikkönen still mathematically alive at the final race. But 2003 would not be his year, as he settled for second place to Michael Schumacher. Also, McLaren narrowly lost second place in the constructor championship, finishing a meager two points behind Williams.
The 2004 season began in quite dismal fashion for both Räikkönen and McLaren, as he only claimed a single point through the first four races. His McLaren suffered repeated breakdowns, allowing him to complete just two of the first seven events. Toward the middle of the season, though, McLaren switched to their new MP4-19B chassis and had made a partial recovery by end of the year. Räikkönen scored his second ever pole position at McLaren's home grand prix at Silverstone, and he also claimed his second ever victory in Belgium. He ended the year a respectable seventh, with 45 points and four podiums.
Despite the disappointment of the 2004 season, Räikkönen is still seen as one of the rising stars of the sport, along with Renault's Fernando Alonso, Sauber's Felipe Massa, and 2005 McLaren teammate Montoya. Many pundits expect 2005 to be filled with great on-track battles from a resurgent squad in Woking. Ross Brawn still fondly refers to Räikkönen as a driver whom Ferrari might consider in the future.
In early November 2004, Räikkönen announced his intention to create a racing team with his manager Steve Robertson , to be entitled Räikkönen Robertson Racing , which would compete in Formula 3 in 2005.
Formula 1 results
- 2001: 9th, 9 points, 0 wins, 0 poles (Sauber Petronas)
- 2002: 6th, 24 points, 0 wins, 0 poles (West McLaren Mercedes)
- 2003: 2nd, 91 points, 1 win, 1 pole (West McLaren Mercedes)
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